Op-Ed – Radicalization/Orlando Shooting

June 17, 2016

Dear editor,

We were all very saddened to hear of the brutal attack on a night club recently in Orlando, Florida. There has been an outpouring of support for the victims and their families and our thoughts and prayers are certainly with them at this time.

This shooting very clearly demonstrated the height of intolerance as the Pulse nightclub was targeted specifically by the shooter, Omar Mateen. Pure and simple this was an act based on intolerance but let us not forget that this attack was rooted in radical Islam. In one word: this was terrorism.

This is not a so-called “Islamaphobic” statement. There are many Muslims who practice their religion peacefully. But it is very unfortunate that too many people view peaceful Muslims in the same light as those who have been radicalized by a twisted interpretation of this otherwise peaceful religion. That being said, to reject that this was an attack carried out by a man who had been radicalized is to be blind to the problem we face. Let us all be very clear – we are at war with radical Islam.

Several leaders in the United States refuse to attribute the attack to radical Islam, including President Barak Obama. In a recent speech he asked, ‘what difference would it make to state that the attack was carried out by an individual who had been radicalized?’ My former colleague, Mr. Monte Solberg, responded best to President Obama’s question by stating: “The answer is that if you state clearly what the problem is then you don’t mislead yourself and others about what the solution(s) is.” Not recognizing that this attack was motivated by radical Islam does a disservice to the victims and provides an unclear path as to how we move forward to prevent similar attacks.

We will learn more in the coming weeks about whether the shooter was aided by any other groups or individuals but it has been stated that at this time it appears he did not have accomplices or contact with extremist groups outside of the United States. Direct contact with these groups though is not a necessary defining characteristic to claim that the attack was an act of radical Islam. Omar Mateen was radicalized. Before the attack, and even while carrying it out, he explicitly expressed his support for several different Islamist extremist groups. Again, it was an act of intolerance — all terrorism is based on intolerance, intolerance of anything and anyone who does not have the same beliefs as the perpetrators of terrorism.

Moving forward from the Orlando shooting we need to recognize the problem we face. ISIS and other Islamist extremist groups continue to commit genocide and carry out vicious attacks on Shia Muslims, Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities in the Middle East. Furthermore, we need to be aware that in today’s cyber age, radicalization of individuals at home can take place with or without direct contact with extremist groups. The Orlando shooting has taught us that we need to take action to stop radical Islam.

Presently, here in Canada, our Government won’t even say that ISIS is committing genocide and reluctantly uses the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’. Our international partners including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and even the United Nations have been clear that ISIS is committing genocide and have steadfastly denounced their actions.

It is high time that we all collectively call terrorists what they really are.

Sincerely,

Larry Miller, MP Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound